MAIB Calls For Suspension Of 'Duck Boat' Services

The MAIB Has Raised Concerns Over The Safety Of Amphibious Vehicles

01.11.2013

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

The safety of amphibious vehicles - otherwise referred to as "duck boats" - has been placed under the spotlight.

Members of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) believe such services should be suspended until in-depth inspections have been completed.

There have been two high-profile incidents involving vehicles that travel on land and water in recent months.

The first occurred in Liverpool in June, when passengers on the Wacker Quacker 1 were forced to abandon the craft when it started to sink in Salthouse Dock.

In July, the MAIB conducted a series of tests on the boat and found it was not possible to pump enough foam into the hull in order to achieve 110 per cent buoyancy.

A second incident happened in London in September, when a fire broke out on the DUKW Cleopatra. The vessel - which was carrying tourists along the River Thames - was said to be full of foam that was heavily contaminated with grease and the MAIB suggested this is what fuelled the blaze.

There were no serious injuries reported in either case, but a spokesman for the MAIB said this was down to luck.

Chief marine accident inspector Captain Steve Clinch remarked: "Both accidents resulted in the rapid abandonment into the water of passengers, including small children and crew.

"It was extremely fortunate that, on both occasions, there were no serious injuries or loss of life."

The organisation is particularly concerned about the use of foam in the vehicles and it confirmed that other similar, but less-publicised, incidents have occurred in the past.

In July 2013, the DUKW Elizabeth was towed from the River Thames after a drive shaft universal coupling in the engine bay failed.

The MAIB thinks more tests need to be carried out on the use of foam in amphibious vehicles, as serious questions about the buoyancy of the vessels have been raised and the body has called for a temporary ban on services in the meantime.